By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
When you grow up at the rink the way Chris Bourque did, it’s easy to see how his love of hockey was born. It began when he was a young boy, and his father, Hall of Fame defenseman Raymond Bourque would bring him to the Boston Garden and then the Fleet Center to skate with the elder Bourque’s Bruin teammates.
His love for the sport transformed into a 17-year career spanning over six leagues, with the most successful part of his career playing in the American Hockey League (AHL), where he played for the Providence Bruins, Hartford Wolf Pack, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and the Hershey Bears. Bourque played nine years in Hershey and will have his number 17 retired by the club on January 14.
“I’m very honored,” Bourque said. “I spent a good chunk of my career in Hershey. Some of the best moments I had as a hockey player were in Hershey.”
Bourque played 604 games in the chocolate and white uniform, winning three Calder Cups in 2006, 2009, and 2010. He is the Hershey Bears All-Time leading scorer with 586 points (196 goals, 390 assists). He earned the John B Sollenberger Trophy twice as the league scoring champion in 2012 and 2016 and won the Les Cunningham Award in 2016 as Most Valuable Player for the AHL.
Joining Frank Mathers, Ralph Keller, Mike Nykoluk, Arnie Kullman, Tim Tookey, Willie Marshall, and Mitch Lamoureux, Bourque will be the eighth player in franchise history to have his number raised to the rafters in Giant Arena. Bourque isn’t a stranger to ceremonies like this; he was with his father when his number 77 was raised to the rafters by the Bruins and Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s all full circle,” Bourque said. “They’re different leagues, but a historic franchise like Hershey, I’m very honored to have my number retired there. Having experienced it with my dad here [in Boston] and in Colorado was unbelievable. I’ll have to ask him for a couple of tips on what to do and help with my speech.”
Bourque’s professional playing career may have ended this past spring when he announced his retirement, but as part of the Bruins Alumni, he has already skated in two games won by the black and gold of yesteryear and hopes to play at least once or twice a month.
“There’s a lot of legends on this team,” Bourque said. “I know he’s my dad, but to be out there with my dad, Big Z, Joe Mullen; it’s crazy, it’s fun. So any chance I’ll get to skate with those guys, I’ll take that opportunity.”
His love for the sport has transcended to his children, just like his stemmed from his father. His daughter has just started playing, so she hasn’t quite figured out which position is her favorite. Bourque’s son Kingston has picked a position and a current Bruin as the one he wants to emulate.
“My son is currently playing center, and his favorite player is Patrice Bergeron,” Bourque explained. “Patrice is such a big figure in this town, so it’s easy to gravitate towards him. He watches him play and would like to be like him.”
Bourque may wear black and gold when playing in alumni games, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be rooting for the NHL club during their games, especially against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who Bourque became a scout for in July.
“They are two powerhouses in the league,” Bourque said. “But I’ll be rooting for the Leafs. That’s my employer; I’m part of the organization.”
Bourque did say while he will root for the Leafs, his father would be rooting for Boston, which means a playoff series between the two teams could result in a little wager between father and son.
Bourque was drafted 33rd overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played 51 games in the NHL in Washington, Pittsburgh, and Boston. He recorded 4 points in 18 games for the Bruins and played 39 games in Providence, where he tallied 10 goals and 28 assists.